A Low-cost data-logging platform for long-term field sensor deployment in caves

Monday, 15 December 2014
Marco Antonio Cruz, Joseph M Myre and Matthew D Covington, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, United States
Active karst systems are notoriously inhospitable environments for humans and equipment. Caves require equipment to cope with high humidity, high velocity flows, submersion, sediment loads, and harassment from local fauna. Equipment taken into caves is often considered "consumable" due to the extreme nature of cave environments and the difficulty of transport. Further, because many interesting monitoring locations within caves can be considered remote, it is ideal for electronic monitoring platforms to require minimal maintenance of parts and power supplies.

To partially address the challenge of scientifically monitoring such environments, we have developed an arduino based platform for environmental monitoring of cave systems. The arduino is a general purpose open source microcontroller that is easily programmed with only a basic knowledge of the C programming language. The arduino is capable of controlling digital and analog electronics in a modular fashion. Using this capability, we have created a platform for monitoring CO2 levels in cave systems that costs one-tenth of a comparable commercial system while using a fraction of the power. The modular nature of the arduino system allows the incorporation of additional environmental sensors in the future.